A review a day: Abyss

by  in Comic News Comment

Bringin’ the funny today!

Whilst I was hanging out at the con, Paul Ens of Red 5 Comics (purveyors of Atomic Robo) was nice enough to give me a couple of his company’s trade paperbacks. “We publish other things beside Robo, you know!” was his unspoken message.

Ens is a pretty cool guy, so I figure the least I could do is give his books some pub! So today we have one collection, and tomorrow we’ll have another one! Sound good? Excellent.

Abyss is first up. This mini-series, which came out a few years ago, is written by Kevin Rubio, penciled by Lucas Marangon, inked by Nick Schley, colored by Andrew Dalhouse, and lettered by Troy Peteri. I don’t want to bash Peteri, because his lettering in this book is actually pretty good, but I’ve recently begun to notice that I really don’t like his lettering. I just wanted to point that out because he letters tomorrow’s book and the next day’s book. And his work on Abyss is the best of the lot. Sorry, Mr. Peteri, but I don’t like your work. Anyway, this collects four issues and can be yours for the low, low price of $9.95 (plus you get the Blair Butler introduction, and really, I don’t know how you can live without that!).

Abyss is a humorous comic in which Rubio wonders what would happen if the world’s greatest super-villain – The Abyss – had a son whom he wanted to take over the family business. At the very beginning of the book, The Abyss fakes his death and then, when his son Eric discovers his secret lair, he says he wants Eric to take his place. Eric, who’s a good kid, wants none of it, thus beginning a war between father and son!!!! The Abyss has a dastardly plot that Eric must stop, but when Eric tries to enlist the help of The Arrow (a superhero), he can’t convince the hero he’s telling the truth. This leads to many complications involving The Arrow’s sidekick, Quiver, and it all comes to a head at a comic convention that looks suspiciously like the one in San Diego.

Do the good guys win? Well, of course they do, but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is for Rubio and Marangon to have as much fun as they can skewering superhero conventions, and they do it well.

I don’t want to get into the jokes too much, because it’s fun to come across them on your own, but Rubio obviously loves superheroes and knows them well, so he has a good eye for what deserves skewering. Quiver, for instance, has a bullseye on her chest, which Eric, quite rightly, points out is a pretty good target. The Arrow drives a hybrid, not an “Arrow-mobile,” because he points out that it’s hard to get parts for a custom car. He also sells his equipment on his web site. Rubio takes some shots at Comic-Con and how it’s not as much about the comics anymore but about the movie deals, but considering that he bases the character of Quiver on Ms. Butler and The Arrow on Patrick “Puddy” Warburton, it’s more tongue-in-cheek than anything. The book moves along at a nice brisk clip, with Rubio doing a nice job with the comic timing and making sure that the action backs up the humor. The plot might not be much, but it’s still an exciting story. The one thing that bothered me was when Quiver gets kidnapped. It allows Rubio to riff on the whole notion of sidekicks and the weird place they have in comics history, but it rings false because the “authorities” speak of investigating The Arrow for child endangerment. Yet Quiver is at a club alone when she’s kidnapped, and The Arrow doesn’t seem too put out when she goes. Eric hits on her when they meet, and it’s clear he’s a teenager. So how old is Quiver supposed to be? If she’s a teenager, why is The Arrow letting her go to what appears to be a regular night club (in other words, one that serves alcohol) and “kanoodle” [sic] with her date, and how did she get in?

If she’s not a teenager and is allowed to go into these clubs, then why is it The Arrow’s responsibility? It just feels weird. (And, for the record, according to Wikipedia, Butler was 29 when this book came out, even though Rubio easily could have just based Quiver’s look on her and nothing else.) That section of the book is off, not only because of the weird age thing but because it feels too “real-life” in a book this breezy.

I’m not a huge fan of Marangon’s art, but for the tone of the book, it fits. His faces are weird in that he draws rather large jowls and pointed chins that don’t fit together very well, but the designs of the costumes are nice and he does a good job with the action. This feels like a light-hearted superhero comic, and while a lot of that has to do with Rubio’s script, it also comes through in the art as well. Marangon also does a nice job with the convention scenes, giving us a good sense of the kinds of costumes you see there (the Greatest American Hero, Emma Frost, Atomic Robo, and the Michelin Man have cameos, among others). When I don’t love the art style, all I ask is that it doesn’t screw up the story, and Marangon is solid at complementing the script. So it works.

Abyss is a fun comic that, while it doesn’t do anything revolutionary, works quite well. It might not be something that stays with you, but Rubio does a nice job having fun with superheroes and the conventions we take for granted. Plus, he lays the groundwork for a sequel! Who knows if that will ever pan out, but there you go!

Tomorrow: More Red 5 stuff! With dinosaurs!